Survey Shows Decline In Perception of ‘Broken System’ In Some Latin American Countries

In Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru, citizens’ sentiment that the system is broken dissipated following presidential elections, according to a survey by Ipsos

Demonstrations against Latin American governments are frequent, and which are often a manifestation of citizen sentiment that a country is 'broken'.
December 21, 2022 | 06:22 PM

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Bloomberg Línea — The ‘broken system’ sentiment, which includes distrust of institutions and a perception that a country’s political and economic system is not working properly is recurrent in many countries, with citizens in 64% of countries feeling that their country’s economy is rigged to benefit the rich and powerful, according to a new study by Paris-based global market research company Ipsos.

However, that sentiment, which the company measures, declined in its September-November 2022 survey, compared with the results from March-April 2021, the company states.

Among the countries with the greatest decrease, of more than 0.35 points on the ‘broken system index’, are some countries in Latin America, such as Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Peru, where presidential elections have recently taken place, and where a change in political trends has been seen, causing part of the citizenry to regain confidence in the system.

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“This suggests that national elections can act as a pressure valve for anti-establishment sentiment and help restore confidence in the system,” says the study, after surveying 26,000 adults in 28 countries.

In Chile, for example, there was a 19% drop in citizens’ sentiment that “the [country’s] economy is manipulated to favor the rich and powerful,” while in Colombia the feeling that “politicians and traditional parties do not care about people “like me” fell by 17%.

In Brazil, meanwhile, the prevalence of the feeling that “the experts in this country do not know how people like me live” fell by 16%, and there was a 15% drop in the feeling that for [the country] to be fixed, “we need a strong leader who breaks the rules”.

The ‘Broken System Index’ is based on these five beliefs among citizens:

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  • The [country’s] economy is rigged to favor the rich and powerful.
  • Traditional politicians and parties don’t care about people like me.
  • For [the country] to be fixed, we need a strong leader who will bend the rules.
  • [The country] needs a strong leader to take back the country from the rich and powerful.
  • The experts in this country don’t know how people like me live.

Mistrust in institutions and corruption are the factors that have the greatest impact on the sentiment that there is a broken system in the countries analyzed.

Lula appointed a mix of liberals and leftist economists to his government transition team, reflecting the broad coalition that helped him defeat Jair Bolsonaro in October.

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Outside of Latin America

In the 24 countries surveyed in March-April 2021, the Broken System Index has declined by an average of 0.12 points, the survey notes, with only four of the 24 countries showing any increase in the index score.

“Anti-system sentiments are most widespread in Romania, Turkey, Thailand and South Africa, and least in Sweden and Germany, after surveying 26,000 people online between September and November,” Ipsos said.

Romania scored highest with 3.01 points, followed by Turkey (3.00), Thailand (2.90), South Africa (2.85) and Great Britain (2.80). Those with the lowest scores are Sweden (2.11), Germany (2.26) and the Netherlands (2.40). The index averages 2.65 points across all countries.